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Varna Restaurant Guide
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La Pastaria, Piccadilly Park, Varna
Piccadilly Park
(052) 32 2200
Opening hours 09.00 - 24.00

This restaurant has to rank in my top three Varna restaurants. It may be easy to dismiss it, as a fast food chain restaurant (it is not) simply because of its location within the Piccadilly Park shopping mall, yet this would mean missing a great dining experience.

The restaurant provides a rustic type atmosphere with its dark wood interior and red and white checked tablecloths. Alcove shelving displays colourful and shapely dried pasta along with countless bottles of good quality wine. It is air-conditioned and on a hot day, sitting inside is preferable to the trellised outdoor seating area, which can get extremely oppressive around lunchtime. From the restaurant you can gaze upon the Park of Fighting Friendship, a dull grey granite monument built on top of a Thracian burial mound.

The restaurant is child friendly and there is a wide selection of food, which appeals to children including old favourites like spaghetti bolognaise. There is also a small enclosed, but unsupervised play area outside, or if you prefer dining without the constant interruption of your little angels, there is a supervised crèche on the top floor of the mall.

On entering the restaurant, you are greeted by friendly and efficient staff, who speaks Bulgarian and English. The staff is attentive to your arrival and serve drinks and menu immediately. The a la carte menu consists of a range of Italian dishes, which are by no means limited to pizza and pasta. Once drinks are served and your order taken, you are given a complimentary bread basket to nibble on. There is a wide selection of fresh salads, my favourite being the Insalata Mista, a dish prepared with blue cheese, salad greens and bacon in a light dressing and there is an excellent fish menu. I chose the Seafood Tagliatelli with cream. It cleverly blends a mixture of fresh salmon and squid with fresh Black Sea mussels. I‘m getting set in my ways, this is the third time in as many weeks, that I have eaten this dish. My husband opts for the anti pasti meat platter, a huge selection of salamis and Parma ham, served with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The wine menu will not disappoint. The house Chardonnay, served chilled to perfection, is superior to any other house wines I have tasted in this region. Once the meal is over no amount of will power can deter me from one of La Pastaria’s scrumptious desserts; the profiteroles are irresistible and guaranteed to add pounds, although I generally opt for the light, creamy Crème Brulee, when I‘m feeling weight conscious. No matter what we choose, we are always pleasantly surprised when the bill arrives as it always hovers round the 20 to 25 Leva mark.

La Pastaria have two other restaurants, one in the centre of Varna at Dragoman 45 and the other on Vasil Levski in Razgrad. Each aims to provide you with an unforgettable dining experience based on the promise of mouth - watering food and friendly service. They aim not just to answer your expectations, but also to surpass them. I can safely say they have never let me down.

Guan Don, Varna
Brata Shkorpil St 26b
Tel: 052 617 002 / 0897 904256
Open 11 - 23.00

Varna is home to several Chinese restaurants, but Guan Don serves the best food. Located next to the Hotel Splendid and with a view of the Cathedral, it is a convenient pit stop after a day of shopping or sightseeing. There are usually plenty of parking spaces on this quiet tree lined street too.

The restaurant is far from chic and elegant. It is small and somewhat dingy. Typical Chinese merchandise adorns the walls and ceiling in an attempt to add an authentic Oriental feel to the place. There is seating on two levels, with each table seating six people comfortably in a booth-like setting. There is one aspect where Guan Don rises above all other Chinese restaurants and that is the quality of its food. It is simply delicious and I have yet to taste a dish, which does not meet their exacting standards. The picture menu does no justice to the variety and quality of food served here, but it does provide much entertainment with dishes such as Stir Fry Rice with Spy Germs (500g, 2.90 lv) , Pork Meat Pane with Nippy Sauce (450g, 7.90 lv) and Fried Froggy in Eggs and Bread -Srumbs (10 pieces, 3.80 lv ). Unlike our local back home, there is no Set Menu or Banquet meals, so we decide to opt for old favourites; hot and sour soup (300g, 2.10 lv), Prawn Crackers (400g, 3.80 lv), Chicken and Fried Noodles (400g, 3.80 lv), Guan Don rice (500g, 3.50 lv) and Sweet and Sour Chicken (500g, 5.90 lv). The portions are enormous and excellent value for money. Most dishes are 500 grams, which means you can share one meal between you. The rice and noodles arrive first, but they are so tasty, everyone tucks in and in no time, the main dish has arrived. The bill for five people including drinks comes to just over 30 Leva.

Felice, Palah Center, Varna
Yan Palah Str. 1
(052) 60 14 18
Opening hours 11.00 - 1.00
Felice is the upmarket arm of the Varna based Happy Bar & Grill chain and it works on similar principles to the semi fast fooda chains Happy Bar by occupying the niche between luxurious restaurants and fast food outlets.

The restaurant is not in the most attractive quarter of Varna. It lies on a small shopping complex, surrounded by drab, decaying concrete tower blocks (a legacy of the communist era) and overgrown wastelands. Stray dogs loiter eager to pick up gourmet scraps and a busy main road runs alongside. Yet amidst this impoverished landscape the car park is bursting with black Mercedes, BMW‘s and Porsches. This is a great place for people watching and it is common to see local mafia types accompanied by their meaty bodyguards, who always sit alone at a table within eyeshot of their boss.
The restaurant décor is rather bland, but comfortable. Lots of dark shiny wood, plastic plants, mock rustic Italian cuisine pictures and terracotta tiled floors. In every corner there is a plasma screen TV showing the Fashion Channel or a Sports Channel. The restaurant is on two levels, has a covered outdoor section shielded from the road, and as much of the abominable view as possible, but given the location this never appeals to me and is rarely used. Upstairs is much quieter, but for me, the best seating is in booths next to the enormous plate glass window, which screens the kitchen from the restaurant and allows you to watch the chefs prepare your food. The kitchen is spotless and so are the cooks. If the menu says your dish is 400 grams, then that is what it will be, you can watch the chefs carefully weigh out every portion of food before it is cooked. The kitchen runs with smooth, seamless efficiency and is a great credit to the restaurant.

Felice offers reasonably priced tasty Italian cuisine from a varied picture menu, which changes regularly. Each section of the menu offers some unusual dishes, there is a great selection of salads ranging in price from 3-8 Leva, the generic pizza and pasta section all of which I can recommend and a host of snack dishes like spinach pita rolls, and shaved parmesan in a brandy snap basket. There is an interesting array of main courses, most of which I have tried, but my favourite being the veal bon filet, cooked to perfection and served with a smooth appetizing mash and a rich sauce. Main courses cost around 8 - 15 Leva.

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